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Poor writing in a 'laid back' boy.

Discussion in 'English' started by jocraigie, Jul 3, 2015.

  1. jocraigie

    jocraigie New commenter

    I am currently tutoring a boy in year 5. He is behind in literacy and numeracy but writing is his major problem. He is currently about 3 years behind. I have been tutoring him for a year and he has only made the progress that I would expect in about 4 months. I have tried lots of different techniques - storyboards, simple sentence writing, picture prompts, using a book, looking at and using model texts and also non fiction writing, nothing seems to work. He struggles to accurately punctuate his work which often does not make sense at a basic level or follow a plan so that its structure is very weak. Help - I really don't know what to do next. He is very laid back and is difficult to motivate - I have tried various motivational methods again to no avail, it is sometimes a struggle to get him to interact with me in a session. Help!
  2. roamingteacher

    roamingteacher Established commenter Forum guide

    It's difficult to comment without meeting the boy or knowing a bit more about what 'motivational methods' you've tried.

    You could look at Lucy Calkins' Units of Study. Although they are far too expensive to invest in for one student, you could research the methodology and see if that's worth trying. Google 'writer workshop' with the relevant keywords and you should get some good results. In a nutshell, the format is mini-lesson (using extracts from published models), followed by the majority of the time writing. You should also write with him i.e. join him in his writing and share at the end of the session.

    I guess you've already tried these but just in case:

    • tap in to his personal interests as communicated by him (rather than his parents or anyone else)
    • given him a reason to write (e.g. a letter to his parents asking for something he really wants, negotiated with his parents so that it has an authentic outcome or writing to a 'pal' from a platform like e-pals)
    • guiding him in creating a personalised checklist for his writing and insisting he use it before giving you a piece of his writing
    • graphic organisers to plan his writing, which he receives feedback on before attempting to write
    • lots of modelling from books, preferably ones that might capture his imagination and he might enjoy reading
    • treats such as reading to him from aforementioned books as a break from intensive study either at the end of the session or in between stages
    • setting aside time to just get to know him as a person to see what makes him tick, rather than just as his teacher
    • getting him to verbalise before he writes - talking naturally comes before writing
    • using quick-writes and free writing
    • playing games (offline and online) to reinforce particular writing points or indeed gamifying the sessions
    • give him 'wins' to boost his confidence e.g. simple copy-writes based on this idea
    • rule out any underlying learning difficulties
    Also, I'm not sure how you decided what progress he should be making in any given time frame, but of course all kids are different, and learning is not at a consistent rate. Try not to get too frustrated and focus more on the positives, especially if parents are not putting on pressure.

    Hope this helps in some way.
  3. jocraigie

    jocraigie New commenter

    Thanks for this - I'll google the writing units. There are a couple of points that I haven't tried thanks.

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